Wheat is a grain crop that grows in many temperate climates. Although most wheat in the United States is grown using mechanized agriculture, wheat can be planted, cared for and harvested by hand. If an area either has adequate water or can be irrigated, has proper temperatures, good sun and either low humidity or facilities for quick grain drying, wheat is a potential crop. In general, wheat takes about 120 days to mature, meaning that it can be planted twice a year. Those two crops are usually referred to as spring wheat and winter wheat.
Because wheat is generally a cool season crop, it does not require much water. Wheat needs between 12 and 15 inches of rain over a growing season to produce a good crop. How much water a particular wheat crop will need will depend on how much water is stored in the ground and how much natural rainfall an area gets. In most cases, irrigation levels will range from no required irrigation to 16 inches of water.
Wheat grows best in temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees F. The minimum temperature that wheat can withstand during its growth cycle is about 40 degrees F. Wheat does not grow well if temperatures exceed 95 degrees F. Temperatures below 40 degrees F during seed germination will result in lower germination rates. Temperatures higher than 95 degrees F during maturation will result in lower yields.
Wheat requires a lot of sun. It grows best in full sun, but some parts of a field can grow well if partially shaded. Wheat is a grass that uses sun to create growth energy. More sun, as long as the plants' water and temperature requirements are met, generally results in better crop yields.
Wheat grows best in areas with lower humidity. Wheat growing in low humidity areas will have fewer problems with humidity-related issues like fungus. In areas of high humidity that produce wheat, the wheat must be dried quickly after harvest to keep it from spoiling.